What Is a Steam Oven?

Steam ovens are becoming increasingly popular in modern kitchens, offering a healthier and more versatile way of cooking. These ovens either use steam or a combination of steam and heat to cook food while enhancing its flavor and texture. One of the key benefits of steam ovens is their ability to cook food faster than traditional ovens while maintaining their nutritional value. Steam ovens can also help reduce the need for additional cooking fats, like sunflower and olive oil. Besides their versatility and health benefits, you will also find these ovens in different models typically designed for a range of cooking applications. If you want to know more about the functionality and uses of a steam oven, then this article is for you. 

In this article, we’ll cover: 

What Is a Steam Oven? 

Before going into details about its functionality and application, we need to answer the question, “What is a steam oven?” As is clear from the name, it is a type of oven that uses moisture or steam to cook food. One of the key differences between steam ovens and other types of ovens is the way they cook food. Traditional ovens use dry heat to cook food, which can cause food to dry out or become tough. On the other hand, steam ovens use moisture to cook food, which helps lock in flavor and moisture. 

Steam ovens can come in a variety of sizes, but they generally look similar to traditional ovens. They usually have a sleek, stylish design that allows you to maintain the aesthetic appeal of your kitchen. Steam ovens can be used for a wide range of cooking tasks, including baking, roasting, steaming, and more, making them a versatile addition to any kitchen.

What Is a Standalone Steam Oven? 

Standalone steam ovens are similar to built-in steam ovens, but they are designed to be freestanding rather than built into a wall. They typically feature a large door that opens to reveal the cooking chamber and a built-in water reservoir. Standalone steam ovens may also include additional features, such as multiple cooking racks and a variety of cooking programs. 

Standalone steam ovens can be beneficial to those wanting to incorporate healthier cooking methods into their meal prep routines. These ovens use 100 percent steam to produce heat, which is a gentle and low-fat way to prepare food. You don’t need to lather your steaks with butter as the steam continues to add moisture to the food while it is being cooked. Additionally, standalone steam ovens can be a great option for those with limited kitchen space, as they can be placed on a countertop or in a dedicated cooking area.


What Is a Combination Steam Oven? 

As the name suggests, combination or combi steam ovens combine steam and dry heat to cook food. They typically feature a larger cooking chamber than standalone steam ovens, with different cooking modes. Combi steam ovens may also include additional features, such as a built-in grill or convection fan. These ovens give you the best of both worlds: the flavor from steaming and the classic golden-brown finish from convection.  

Combination steam ovens are a great option for those who want the flexibility to cook a wide range of dishes using multiple cooking methods. The combination of steam and dry heat can help achieve the perfect texture and flavor for a variety of foods ranging from roasted vegetables to baked goods. A combi oven is an excellent buy if you want to save up some space in the kitchen by replacing a separate oven and microwave with just one cooking appliance.


What Is an Electric Oven with Steam Option? 

Yes, you read that right. There are electric ovens with steam functionality that can produce steam as part of the cooking process. They look like traditional electric ovens with the only exception of an in-built water reservoir. In some models, you may not have the water reservoir attached to the oven. With these models, you have to manually add water in a separate tray inside the oven chamber during cooking. 

An electric oven with steam functionality is an ideal investment for anyone wanting to incorporate the benefits of steam cooking into their existing kitchen setup. The ability to produce steam can help lock in flavor and moisture, making it a great option for cooking a wide range of foods. Additionally, electric ovens with steam functionality can be a more affordable option than standalone or combi steam ovens, making them an excellent choice for those on a budget.


How Does a Steam Oven Work? 

As mentioned earlier, steam ovens are designed to cook food using high-temperature steam, which is created by heating water in a separate compartment in the oven. Now let’s delve deeper into how the heat is produced and used inside the oven. To cook the food, the oven heats water to a temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius) which is when it starts to produce steam. The steam is then released into the main cooking compartment, where it cooks the food evenly and quickly. Compared to a convection oven, this process can cut the cooking time of meats like a whole turkey or chicken in half. 

Steam ovens have specific parts that are different from traditional ovens, such as a water reservoir, a steam generator, and a drainage system. The water reservoir is where water is added to create steam, and the steam generator heats the water to its steaming point. Additionally, steam ovens often have a temperature probe that can be inserted into the food to monitor the internal temperature accurately. Once cooking is complete, the drainage system removes any excess moisture from the oven to prevent overcooking or the food from becoming soggy.


What Is a Steam Oven Used for? 

Now that you already know the answer to “What is a steam oven?” and “How does a steam oven work?” The next obvious question on your mind will be: What does a steam oven do? Needless to say, it cooks food so it's fresher and healthier. What truly makes it stand out are some specific dishes that reach a whole new level when steam-cooked. One of the most popular uses of steam ovens is for cooking vegetables, as steam cooking helps to retain the vegetables' natural flavors and nutrients. The high-temperature steam also cooks the vegetables evenly, resulting in a crisp yet tender texture.  

Similarly, steam cooking is ideal for seafood, as it maintains fish or shellfish's delicate texture and flavor. Steam ovens are also ideal for baking bread, as the high humidity created by the steam helps develop a crusty exterior and a moist, fluffy interior. The steam also prevents the bread from drying out and reduces the risk of burning. Other popular uses for steam ovens include cooking rice, pasta, and grains, as well as reheating leftovers. Leftover food usually dries out in the refrigerator, and this is where the humidity of steam cooking can be beneficial.


FAQs about What a Steam Oven Is and Steam Oven Uses 

What is a steam oven good for? 

Steam ovens are good for cooking food quickly and efficiently while retaining nutrients, flavor, and color. They are particularly useful for cooking vegetables, seafood, and bread, as well as reheating leftovers. 

What are the disadvantages of a steam oven? 

One disadvantage of a steam oven is that it may not be suitable for cooking certain food that requires dry heat, such as roasted meats or baked goods that require a crispy crust. Steamed meats often lack the classic golden brown finish, which only the broiler function of a traditional oven can offer. 

Can a steam oven replace a regular oven? 

While steam ovens are versatile appliances that can be used for cooking multiple dishes, they may not be able to replace a regular oven entirely. Steam ovens are particularly well-suited for certain tasks, such as steaming vegetables or cooking seafood, but may not be ideal for baking or roasting certain foods that require dry heat for a crispier layer on top. 

What is the difference between a steam oven and a normal oven? 

The main difference between a steam oven and a normal oven is the method of cooking. A steam oven uses high-temperature steam to cook food, while a normal oven uses dry heat. Additionally, steam ovens often have specific parts, such as a water reservoir and drainage system, that are not present in normal ovens.  

Final Thoughts 

Steam ovens are the easiest way to retain the nutrients, flavor, and color of your food. They are versatile appliances that can cook a wide range of dishes like vegetables, bread, eggs, and more. While steam ovens may not be able to replace regular ovens completely, they can certainly enhance your cooking experience and provide a healthier option. With simple controls and minimal maintenance, steam ovens are easy to use and produce delicious results every time. Investing in a steam oven is a wise choice for those who value convenience, health, and great-tasting food. Coast Appliances have a vast collection of steam ovens from the most reputable brands to get your kitchen to the next level.